The Coronavirus/Covid-19 plague is so virulent in effect because of the fear of death, that core human fear.
Enter the True Man who brings the Gospel to the earth and within reach of the fearful humanity all at sea on the ship of death. The Gospel is the Lord’s passion to rid the fear of death from the hearts of humankind. Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death– that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. An amazing gift. That before which man and beast instinctively cringe and flee must be neutered of all its potency.
This Jesus stood at the tomb of his beloved mate Lazarus, dead for four days. The Bible says Jesus trembled, or was deeply moved. The word used was the same word which described the great military commander Alexander the Great for his war horses rearing up ready for the order to charge into battle striking shuddering fear into their enemy. Jesus commanded the powers of resurrection authority over death, this ugly blight on His Fathers creation.
I once mentored a young pastor who worked part time as a doctor. He had imagined medicine was the new priesthood. I suggested few folks would seek him out as a pastor, as they would as a medico. Why? because folk are more afraid of death than of their sins. Ironic. Sin is the potency, the sting of death. Our LORD Jesus bore sin into a place where it is justly and faithfully beyond the memory of God. Only here, in this fact, do we find peace from the haunting anxiety produced by the fact of our mortality. Freedom to live carefree in moral joy, energy to share with our persecuted broader family, learning to live for what lasts.
So the Gospel declares death is done with and finished as a fear evoking reality. Yet it is still here. Is it? Only a shell on the beach. The life has gone. Farmers understand this. Steers can forage with the cows. No danger of unwanted blood line infecting the herd. These pseudo bulls have no potency. All steer, no bull!
A woman visited my shed where I do amateur beekeeping. Just before she came a bee, the only one in the shed had stung me. I watched it alight on her. She screamed. I said don’t worry, they only have one sting and it has already stung me, it is powerless to harm you.
Jesus delights to share and see His sting drawing of death taken up by believers, now free to live abundantly, heads high, laughing at the old enemy and looking forward to the glorious next stage of sharing in the Lord’s life eternal. Grief healed with hope. With Christ we possess and command life, death, the present and the future. All are ours.
So real is this that the Lord promises us that death is now out of sight. Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death. The words of our death neutering Master-any word- kept trustingly in the heart potently cleanses our hearts of fear.As one preacher put it, when it comes, we won’t feel the bump!
Yet the old lying enemy is currently boasting at retaking lost former ground. Suicide is now the highest cause of death in young males. Folk are intimidated by death more than ever, teasing themselves it won’t happen to them as they watch more and more of it on television -imagining it is pushed into the land of numbness as we all live to over a hundred gorging ourselves on stuff . Or as Woody Allen put it ‘I just don’t want to be there when it happens’
There is only one place where death no longer lives and breeds its frights. Where Jesus the Lord of the living abides. So we should ever boldly proclaim the Resurrection of the crucified One. Then the afflicted will hear and be glad. And we will say but you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head! And what is now neutered one day will be destroyed forever.
(Heb 2.14, 1Cor3.22, John 8.51, Ps34, Ps 2)